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Mariners End Season on Positive Note

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SEATTLE, Wash - The Seattle Mariners ended their sixth straight season out of the playoffs on a positive note.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez gave up only four hits in 8 2-3 innings as the Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 today before a crowd of 30,442 at Safeco Field. The 21-year-old Hernandez's was replaced by manager John McLaren by All-Star closer J.J. Putz with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. Putz earned his career-high 40th save. Putz's 40 saves is the second most in team history. Kazuhiro Sasaki had 45 saves in 2001.

Hernandez missed finishing his second complete game of the season. The other was a one-hitter on April 11 at Boston. He earned his career-high 14th victory in 21 decisions, striking out eight, walking none and hitting a batter.

Jamie Burke, a 14-year minor leaguer, hit his first career home run and drove in another with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt to end the backup catcher's first full season in the majors. Burke's squeeze came after Adam Jones tripled for the Mariners.

The Mariners finished with an 88-74 record, a 10-game improvement over last season and good for second place in the AL West after three consecutive seasons in last place. McLaren went 43-41 as the Mariners' manager after Mike Hargrove resigned during an eight-game winning streak July 1. McLaren will return next season along with general manager Bill Bavasi.